An Electrical Engineering MS Student on Co-Op

by Mudit Pasagadagula, Electrical Engineering MS student

(Mudit is currently on co-op at ANSYS, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA as a Research and Development Intern. In his role, Mudit is responsible for developing independent projects and designing benchmark projects for rigorous testing of electromagnetic solvers developed by the HFSS-Solver development team. He is also responsible for simulating the designed projects, organizing the results, and analyzing them to make sure they agrees with theoretical/measurement expected results, and for finding defects and verifying fixed defects in Ansys Electromagnetic Desktop software.)

Being an international student in the US is rewarding. However, getting an opportunity to experience working as a full-time employee for an external company, as a part of your coursework, is the cherry on top.

Choosing Rochester Institute of Technology as my graduate school was a well calculated decision, based upon a combination of my capabilities alongside a vision of what I wanted to learn and how much of that RIT could offer. All I was concerned about was what I was going to study. What I got was more than “what I wanted,” and in ways I could have never imagined. Cooperative Education is one of the best way to learn what you exactly want to work with and I am glad I choose one of the best Co-Op schools in the country.

It’s not just the theoretical and practical knowledge I gathered from my classroom lectures and project works that helped me prepare for my co-op interview with ANSYS, Inc, which I applied online for. It was also the overall learning experience I gathered from the places I worked on campus, the useful informal conversations I had with the professors I worked with and the hard working student community which always keeps me motivated when I am at school.

Getting to experience a professional and technical work environment in a company listed in FORTUNE 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, with a global footprint. ANSYS, Inc. has operations in 40 countries, which is a big learning opportunity for me. I am thankful to RIT’s Cooperative Education program for making this possible for every student who is curious enough to explore and learn.

Being a Student Liaison: Making Rewarding Connections

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

We are now almost three-quarters through the academic year, and I have also been a graduate student liaison here at RIT for that much of a time without even realizing it. If you ask me what I find most rewarding about this position, I would say it’s the opportunity to break boundaries and make connections for the prospective students, and keep forming and maintaining them at the same time.

Almost all of the bloggers here are from the graduate student liaison team. As a student liaison, we serve as an ambassador to prospective students by offering perspective and assistance throughout the enrollment process. We normally communicate with those students by sharing experiences via the office’s social media, placing outgoing courtesy and follow-up phone calls and emails. We also gather in meetings and come up with ideas to better serve the connections.

I didn’t really feel the strong connections to students until it hit the busy season in the admissions office, which was around Thanksgiving last year. Students started to have more questions about applying to university and also about the general student life on campus. That’s when I began to feel good inside about being a graduate student liaison. Personally, I grew so quickly at RIT, I am eager to share my personal experience with prospective students, particularly international students, and cope with their doubts towards future study at our school. The small talks that I had with the students made me step back at the moments when I talked to the RIT student representatives while I was applying for the school. In the meantime, I feel proud of adding diversity to the university and help prospective students with on-the- ground information and adjust to campus life quickly after enrollment.

To me, talking and making connections with the students is also a good way for me to self-reflect on my personal student life and academic performance. I am also greatly grateful for the precious opportunity of studying at RIT and aspire to reward the school with my knowledge, skills and experiences. To put it in a nutshell, I feel like being a graduate student liaison is extremely rewarding and meaningful, and I am hoping to meet the students in person soon! If you would also like to be connected to one of our liaisons, feel free to feel out the Connection Request Form here: https://join.rit.edu/register/GradStuConnectRequest

Getting a DMV-issued ID in the United States

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

A person is ID-ed while purchasing alcohol, or while entering an age-restricted setting, such as an R-rated movie at a theater or even a restaurant after a certain time, or when taking a domestic flight within the US. As an international student, my primary ID is my passport. However, I find it cumbersome and unsafe to carry it around whenever I step out of the house.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) comes to the rescue in this matter. It issues three different types of ID, all of which can be used for the various purposes mentioned above. The first, and the simplest to obtain, is the non-driver’s ID, also known as a state ID. It costs about $8. The whole process at the DMV takes a few minutes and the issued ID gets mailed within a fortnight. The list of required documents can be found on the DMV website. The validity ranges from 4 to 10 years.

The second type of ID is a learner’s permit. This is required to obtain an eventual permanent driver’s license but can be used a form of ID on its own too. This typically costs around $70 (the actual cost depends on the age of applicant and other criteria) and includes the cost of obtaining the permanent permit as well. The required documents for this ID can be found on the DMV website, however if an applicant already holds a state ID, no extra document might even be checked. A written test is required for this ID. An applicant is asked to answer 20 questions pertaining to driving and the learner’s permit is issued if 14 or more of these questions are answered correctly. I personally read the content at https://dmv.ny.gov/driver-license/drivers-manual-practice-tests to prepare for the test.

The third type of ID is the driver’s permit. An applicant for this needs to be in possession of a valid learner’s permit and should have completed a pre-licensing course or a driver’s education course. More details about these courses can be obtained from the DMV website. The applicant would need to successfully pass a road test to get this permit. Scheduling this road test takes time as DMVs are usually dealing with a constant backlog of tests so typically the next available date is usually a couple of months away. The cost of two road tests is included while paying for the initial learner’s permit. If an applicant needs more than two tests, an extra charge is levied.

Once a person has any of these three IDs, their passport can be safely kept indoors only to be taken out for international travel. Please remember that none of these above mentioned IDs can substitute the requirement of a passport while crossing international boundaries!

Don’t Miss Out on Imagine RIT 2018!

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

For those of you interested in innovative and interactive presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and different exhibitions – have you heard of Imagine RIT? If not, today it’s the time for me to introduce it to you all.

Imagine RIT is an annual festival of Innovation and Creativity that turns the entire RIT campus into a giant expo showcasing interactive student projects in fields of science, technology, arts, community and beyond. And this year, the festival is being held on Saturday, 28th April 2018, from 10 AM to 5 PM. Every year, it’s a great opportunity for the RIT students, faculty and staff to showcase their innovative work to the public, and also a great campus-wide event for the visitors to experience the dynamics of the campus.

Last year was the ten-year anniversary of Imagine RIT and there was about 400 exhibits displayed at the festival. Various types of creative projects were involved including Puppy Prosthetics, customized drones, Air Force bomb disposal robot, Ferris wheel model, and so on. Almost all of the projects delivered valuable messages with the implementation of technologies and some of them could even address real quality-of-life issues. Personally, I am also planning on attending the event and demonstrate some of the research work that I have been working on. I take this event as a valuable chance to exchange ideas with people who are a big fan of innovations and technologies.

Recently, the Imagine RIT team has just announced that President Munson is sponsoring a Performing Arts Competition as part of Imagine RIT 2018. And this exciting news means RIT community members who are into things like dance, music, drama, comedy and juggling can also have a stage to show their talent to the public. There’s also a Poster Contest for this year’s festival if you would like to check some beautiful designs out! And lastly, if you want to know about the festival, please visit their website at https://www.rit.edu/imagine/.

What is a Co-op?

Picture from my Co-op during Summer 2016

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

“What is a Co-op?” is probably one of the most frequent questions I get from prospective students so I thought I should be writing a short article explaining what exactly is this word Co-op that RIT staff and students use a lot. Co-operative Education or as we love to call it, Co-op, is similar to an internship that can be done during the academic semesters (Fall or Spring) and is a practical experience that add values to your degree and can be done anywhere in the world. It is the best way to get your foot in the door of your favorite company and also gives you a great experience.

For an opportunity to be considered as co-op it should be full time (35 hours or more per week), paid, and relevant to your field of study. Employers love the co-op program at RIT because it gives them a chance to assess a student’s skill set before they offer them a full-time position at the company. Students love the co-op program because they get to do the same work as a full-time employee and sometimes even pitch new product ideas, which adds great value to the company. One of the perks of being an RIT student is that unlike many schools that require their students to pay for certain credit hours to be registered for a co-op, RIT doesn’t ask its students to pay anything. RIT recognizes that this co-op brings a lot of value to the student and also helps them financially so they encourage their students to complete a co-op before graduating.

The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education has absolutely the nicest people who are always there for students to help them prepare for their interviews, try to bring a lot of companies to the career fair for students to meet employers, review resumes and tons of other services. I personally have done one co-op and it was the best experience ever and was lucky enough to get a full time offer too. So to conclude this short article, a co-op in simple language is just an internship done during academic semesters.

More information can be found on RIT’s Career Services website. 

RIT’s Secret Amenities

by Josiah Bonifas, MBA student

In my last Blog I spoke about the importance of being active and taking care of our bodies. This week I would like to highlight some of the facilities and healthy, fun opportunities that are available at RIT.

On top of the various clubs that students create and the multiple physical education/health classes taught, there are some hidden gems in RIT that I have found during my time here. First off, for a motivated individual, they supply you with everything that you would possibly need. I have always been an advocate for working out and have visited many gyms, so believe me when I say that RIT has an excellent fitness center. They cover over machine and free weight necessary, while also providing an open exercise area on the upper level for CrossFit workouts, or stretching. There are multiple indoor and outdoor tracks if you’re one of those crazy running people as well. Working out alone can be daunting, but the staff are more than happy to assist in spotting you or even giving advice. Now to the hidden gems.

RIT’s Wellness Center has a sign-up option where you can work with a trainer to carve out a workout or fitness plan/diet. This can provide anyone an excellent advantage and expert guidance. They can also check your weight, body fat, and ranges of motion as you set goals to improve all those functions. This can save you a lot of independent time and research.

Another cool hidden gem that every student should know is the free chiropractic care that RIT students are available to use. The Rochester Health Center, Affiliate of New York Chiropractic College on, 1200 Jefferson Rd, Rochester, NY 14623, offers all RIT students free treatment. It is an excellent training facility that I have been using since I found out about it. Chiropractic treatment can be beneficial to anyone, and is an awesome advantage to have while at college.

Some final gems that current or incoming students might want to keep in mind are, the Red Barn Rock climbing center, the Wave pool (lazy river) section of the aquatics center, the hot tub, the sauna rooms, the ice skating rink with public skate hours, the indoor racquetball courts, and the outdoor tennis courts which have multiple public hours. A lot of times we want to do something different and fun, but aren’t sure what to do. These are just a few ideas of things available.

I’ll rap up with this. As you’ve read along, this can easily sound like a cheesy infomercial where I end the speech saying, “All of this can be yours for only $19.99!”. But that’s not my goal. I have always operated under the opinion that the more you know, the more you’ll do. When I graduated from undergrad I looked back and was a disappointed to find out about some things that I didn’t even know existed. I always had a few regrets of things that I wished I had tried at the time. This Blog is just to highlight some of the great opportunities here that might interest you. Give it a shot. You never know if you’ll find something you might truly enjoy.

P.S (Here’s the links to the Facility hours and the Chiropractor College)
https://www.rit.edu/~w-criw/schedule.php
https://local.yahoo.com/info-92436627-new-york-chiro-clg-health-center-rochester

My first Toastmasters Club session

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student 

I had heard about Toastmasters a couple of years ago from a friend who was looking for a way to overcome a crippling fear of public speaking. I mirrored similar feelings but due to some circumstances, I could not find out more and join. Last semester I came across an e-mail from the RIT chapter of Toastmasters. I was keen on attending a meeting but unfortunately, the timings of their weekly sessions coincided with classes so I was not able to take part.

This semester I happen to be free during their meetings so finally in the 5th week, I got myself to go for a session of Tiger Tales Toastmaster Club. I walked in apprehensively, got greeted at the door by a smiling greeter (I found out later that one member is assigned to be a “greeter” each session) who realized almost immediately that I was a newcomer and patiently walked me through the sign-in process, handed me a copy of the day’s agenda, and found me a spot.

It was 6:28 PM and the session was scheduled to start at 6:30 PM. I saw people walking around chatting with others so I expected a delay in proceedings. I could not have been more wrong. At exactly 6:30 PM, the “opener” walked up to the front of the room, banged the gavel, and started speaking. And just like that, everything was engrossed in what was being said. I found out that there was a pre-decided theme of the day, which on that day was “realization”. The “opener” spoke for a couple of minutes about it, giving the audience his view on what realization meant to him. It was short, yet informative. At 6:33 PM, he introduced the “toastmaster” for the evening, whose primary task from then onwards was conducting the meeting. The toastmaster then welcomed all members and paid special attention to the guests for the evening. The guests, or newcomers as I would call us, were given a quick overview of how Toastmasters works, how their goal is to promote public speaking and to help anyone hone their speaking skills. He introduced several key positions for the evening, a person oversaw time-keeping, another one kept track of the grammar being used, while another person counted the number of times a speaker used filler words (“ah”, “umm”, “like”).

And then the session got underway properly. There was a range of speakers for the day; one was doing his first Toastmasters’ speech, while another one was practicing to participate in an international Toastmasters competition. There was also a section where open questions were asked and anyone in attendance could go up and answer. This addressed the impromptu part of public speaking and served as a perfect complement to the previous section where speakers gave prepared speeches.

In the end, the meeting was concluded by reviews given by the “timer”, the “ah-counter”, the “grammarian”, and the general evaluator. Each person’s comments were well-appreciated and applauded. There was even a small prize given to the person who gave the best answer for the open question section.

The last thing that the president of the club did before adjourning the session was to speak to the guests of the evening and made us give our two cents about the experience. I absolutely loved the whole thing and made sure that everyone knew how much I enjoyed.

I would love to join the club and learn the art of public speaking from others and was thoroughly impressed by the ease with which each speaker spoke and the way all constructive criticism was given and taken. I cannot wait to go back next week and I hope that this will be an enriching experience for me going forward.

The Minimalist Journey

by Ami Patel, Computer Science MS student

It was the onset of Fall, and I had already decided to move from my off-campus apartment to someplace with better commute options to RIT. I hadn’t decided where, but, I knew I was moving out. My mind was already prepared for shifting, and slowly, I started sensing the materialistic possessions around me. My closet was overflowing; the drawer was full of random stuff, the shelves brimming, and random piles of boxes in the storage area. A thought crossed my mind; I can never fit all that in the three suitcases I came with. And just then the Minimalism video I had watched a few months ago popped into my head.

I binge watched few videos on Minimalism, and I felt connected with this idea because there was so much clutter around me, it was just too much. I went through my entire room and the apartment to remove things I didn’t need anymore. While I was at it, I realized three major causes of my situation, two of which are prevalent to other students too.

Of course, the first is bringing 3 FULL medium size suitcases along with me. It was the first time I was moving out of my house to live independently, and I thought, I needed All my stuff. Almost all incoming international graduate students I came across, were carrying that much belongings and that’s where the problem lies – normalizing the fact that we will need so much stuff.

As far as you are not moving to a remote island, you can buy things as you need. That brings us to the second cause – Students buy things, a lot of things. Though we brought so many clothes, we are going to buy clothes pertaining to trends in the new city. Something else we students buy a lot is electronics and gadgets to ease our life. For this, I would ask you to go through your online order history and analyze if you have extensively utilized all the products you ever bought. The third issue in my case is that I was a hoarder. I wasn’t good at letting go the things.

Well, this journey helped me to downsize heavily on the overwhelming materialistic possessions. I learned two lessons: one, what I really need and two, let go what I don’t need. Minimalism doesn’t mean to live with very few items, but, it means to live with things you really need. Minimalism was not a journey, it’s a lifestyle for me and I’m still exercising it.

My $0.02 to the students who will move to a new place for graduate studies is to carry just a suitcase and (maybe) a half of essential stuff. Buy the necessities as you adjust to your new life, but remember you may move to another city soon, so don’t hoard a lot.

Winter is Here

by Sanjay Varma Rudraraju, Computer Science MS student

I look out of the window in the morning and my car is covered with snow. I am very annoyed and curse Rochester weather for making my life difficult. My mind quickly starts thinking about writing how to survive in this weather and well long story short I started writing this piece. I wanted to title it “Winter is Coming” but then realized it made no sense because winter has been around for a couple of months already. Now let me think about some ways to survive the Rochester Snow:

1) Snow Boots and Jacket: It gets very slippery when the snow melts and turns to ice so make sure you have a good pair of snow boots. Also, get a jacket that has fur lining on the hoodie because it keeps the snow falling all over your face.

2) Exercise: The cold weather is going to make you lazy and sleepy all the time so make sure you exercise in the winter to avoid those extra pounds and be more energetic.

3) Dry Skin: Your skin and eyes will be extra dry during the snow season. First and foremost cover yourself, get a good moisturizer and a humidifier for the home.

4) Emergency Kit: Snowstorms are not very common but I would still ask people to keep an emergency kit which has things like a battery pack, flashlight, snacks, etc.

5) Stay Healthy: Falling sick is a common thing in the snow season so always make sure you have a hand sanitizer with you, get good amount of sleep and exercise.

These are some of the main things that you need to look out for but there are many other like being careful while you drive in the snow. As I wrap up the article later in the day and looking for a conclusion by wandering outside the library, I see the sunset and a little snowfall which made me realize that I have a love-hate relationship with the snow season at RIT. There are days when I am looking forward to getting out of Rochester and another day when I realize how much I love the snow. Oh before I forget, the man in the picture is President Destler who retired in 2017 and was the 9th president of RIT.

It’s the Year of the Dog!

by Kexin ‘Coco’ Wang, Visual Communications Design MFA student

Last Friday marked the beginning of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year (aka Chinese Spring Festival), and it lasted through this Sunday, Feb 18th, at RIT. RIT Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) held a Chinese New Year Celebration Gala on Sunday night. The Chinese Zodiac is made up of 12 different animals and each of them gets an outing every dozen years. 2018 is a Year of the Dog.

Lunar New Year is always the most important and traditional festival of the year in Chinese culture, and we were so pleasantly surprised and glad that RIT president, David C. Munson Jr., also showed up at the event with his family and showed to support for the Chinese international students. During the event, we had performances including Chinese folk dance, rap, crosstalk and comedic skits. We were also honored to invite our well-liked admissions counselor, David Wivell, to give a welcome speech at the beginning of the Gala. Additionally, lottery drawing also drew the attention of the audience. The biggest prize that was given was an Amazon Fire Tablet.

In case you were wondering, Chinese people usually celebrate Spring Festival by having reunion dinner with family and watching Chinese Near Year Gala on TV. In general, people from the North prefer to make and eat dumplings on Chinese New Year’s Eve, and those from the South will eat spring rolls or sticky rice cake. This year I got to have the large banquet with all of my classmates in my program. It was a bit like a potluck, where people bring various dishes and snacks. But meanwhile, we also handmade dumplings, hotpot and other meat dishes for everyone to share. This New Year feast meant a lot to most of the kids in the program since it’s their first experience of Chinese New Year oversea.

For me, Chinese New Year is more like a celebration of friendship and Chinese culture now because it has been 8 years since I got back home for the Lunar New Year. Although I miss the feeling of having a big dinner with my family, I’m pleased that there’s always a new year atmosphere during the Lunar New Year time in the U.S., and I’m super proud of this unique experience and culture that I have. Happy New Year of the Dog everyone! 新年快乐 (Happy New Year in Chinese, pronounced Xīn Nián Kuài Lè/sheen nian kwai luh)!